This photo simulation shows an overpass that the city of Kent will construct over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks along South 228th Street to improve traffic flow. The bridge is expected to be done in late 2020. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

This photo simulation shows an overpass that the city of Kent will construct over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks along South 228th Street to improve traffic flow. The bridge is expected to be done in late 2020. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

Kent City Council awards final contract for South 228th Street overpass above railroad tracks

Work could be completed by late 2020 between 72nd and 76th Avenue South

Drivers along South 228th Street in Kent are expected to be able to use an overpass to cross the Union Pacific Railroad tracks by late 2020 rather than having to wait for passing trains.

The City Council approved a low bid of $13.8 million on April 2 by Kent-based Scarsella Bros. Inc., for the fifth and final phase of the project, which will include the bridge, roadway, sidewalk and off-site improvements along South 228th Street from 72nd Avenue South to 76th Avenue South, according to city documents.

“This is the last piece and it will be very similar to the BNSF (Railway) bridge down the street,” said City Public Works Director Tim LaPorte during his report to the council. “It’s kind of a twin to this project.”

Kent completed the BNSF overpass along South 228th Street in 2009.

The total cost of the South 228th Street/Union Pacific five-phase project to separate vehicles and trains is expected to be about $40 million, although the latest bid came in about $1.6 million under the city engineer’s estimate. In fact, the favorable bids in the last three phases of the project means the city might not have to sell bonds to finance the remainder of the project, according to city documents.

State, city and federal funds have covered most of the costs.

The overpass will be approximately 1,400 feet long and will include a 200-foot long bridge spanning the railroad and Interurban Trail. The roadway will be four to five lanes wide with sidewalks on both sides and include new bicycle and pedestrian connections to the Interurban Trail.

Scarsella Bros. is completing phase four of the project, which includes $7.7 million for ground improvements, approach embankments and installation of bridge shafts. That work is expected to be done this fall and then work can start on the final phase, said Mark Madfai, city engineering supervisor, in an email.

The grade separation will help provide a regional connection between Kent’s large warehouse district and industrial center with the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport. It will also eliminate daily traffic delays and provide a safer route for freight haulers and commuters at the crossing. Traffic is delayed about 90 minutes per day at the BNSF and Union Pacific tracks, which combined handle about 63 trains per day through Kent, LaPorte said.

The city closed a portion of South 228th Street in November for the next two years as crews complete the final two phases of the project. Phase three of the project included utility relocations, with three sets of high power electrical lines raised to accommodate the new overpass.

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